Columbia Filmmakers Among 2022 Aspen Shortsfest Winners

BY Angeline Dimambro, May 5, 2022

Update: May 4, 2022

 

Two Columbia filmmakers were awarded honors at the 2022 Aspen Shortsfest. They are: Olive Nwosu ’21 and Adjunct Assistant Professor Harris Doran.

 

Nwosu’s film, Egúngún (Masquerade), took home the award for Best Student Short. In Egúngún (Masquerade), Salewa must return for her mother’s funeral in Lagos. At the funeral, she runs into an important person from her past and is forced to go in search of her own peace in this meditation on home, memory, and the many versions of ourselves that haunt us.

 

The jury summarized the achievements of the film in its official statement: “For its delicate handling of complex emotions related to returning to one’s homeland after having created a new life for oneself elsewhere, for its deft use of camera movement, sound design, and editing demonstrating a strong capacity for collaboration, and for the kinetic tension between its two beautifully cast female lead characters.”

 

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olive Nwosu is a BAFTA-Pigott Scholar, Alex Sichel Fellow at Columbia University, and an ‘African Promises’ director selected by the Institut Français. Nwosu’s work is informed by the intersectional nature of her life across multiple continents and identities. Her mission is to tell urgent, cinematic, African stories. She most recently participated in the 2022 Sundance Screenwriting Lab to develop her feature-length script, Burial.

 

Doran’s film, F^¢K '€M R!GHT [email protected]¢K, took home the festival’s award for Best Comedy. The film follows a queer Black aspiring Baltimore rapper who must outwit his vengeful day-job boss in order to avoid getting fired after accidentally eating an edible. “Great title, Super cast, super funny, very satisfying story about workplace abuse, drug testing, and the clever discovery of how to get revenge legally,” reads the official jury statement.

 

Harris Doran's feature film Beauty Mark earned the 'Breakout Performance' Jury Prize for lead actress at its LA Film Festival premiere, among many more awards. Recently, Harris edited the Podcast Movie Ghostwriter starring Kate Mara and Adam Scott for C13Features and Best Case Studios (#1 Fiction Podcast on Apple Podcasts), directed Michael Mitnik's play Fidelity for the 24 Hour Plays, and wrote, directed and adapted the film/theatre hybrid I See You and You See Me for Queens Theatre which premiered on PBS/WNET. Harris's short film The Story of Milo & Annie featuring Academy Award nominee Cathy Moriarty won the lndie Memphis Film Festival and he produced the short film Photo Op which won best LGBTQ short in SENE. Harris has written screenplays including Atticus Brown is Still Here (Tribeca and Hamptons Sloan grant finalist, Sundance second rounder, developed at the Nantucket Screenwriters Colony), COG (Academy Nicholl Fellowship quarterfinalist), In the Wake (Austin semifinalist), and he is on the Alumni Advisory Committee of the Nantucket Screenwriters Colony. Harris trained as an actor at The Juilliard School and has been an acting coach and teacher for over 15 years.

 

Click here to see the list of complete winners from this year’s festival.

 

Original: March 16, 2022


 

Three Columbia Films Selected for Prestigious Aspen Shortsfest

 

Three projects by Columbia University filmmakers have been selected to screen at the prestigious Aspen Shortsfest. They are: Egúngún (Masquerade), directed by alumna Olive Nwosu ’21, Jensen, directed by alumna Chloe Sarbib ’20, and Dress Up, co-produced by student Munir Atalla.

 

Aspen Shortsfest, one of only four Oscar®-qualifying festivals in the US strictly dedicated to short films, showcases world cinema’s most remarkable emerging and established talents. 2022 marks the 31st anniversary of the annual festival, which is run by Aspen Film, the year-round film arts and education organization. Nearly 3,000 films were submitted for consideration for this year’s festival, with just 77 selected for the final event program. Of the 77, 41 films are directed or co-directed by women, accounting for 53% of the program. 

 

Read more about our  filmmakers' projects below:

Egúngún (Masquerade)

Directed by Olive Nwosu '21

 

In Egúngún (Masquerade), Salewa must return for her mother’s funeral in Lagos. At the funeral, she runs into an important person from her past and is forced to go in search of her own peace in this meditation on home, memory, and the many versions of ourselves that haunt us.

 

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olive Nwosu is a BAFTA-Pigott Scholar, Alex Sichel Fellow at Columbia University, and an ‘African Promises’ director selected by the Institut Français. Nwosu’s work is informed by the intersectional nature of her life across multiple continents and identities. Her mission is to tell urgent, cinematic, African stories. She most recently participated in the 2022 Sundance Screenwriting Lab to develop her feature-length script, Burial.

Jensen

Directed by Chloe Sarbib '20

 

After years of writing songs for the band Jensen, named for original frontwoman Nina Jensen, Georgia sings lead vocals at a big gig. But everyone—especially Alden, her bandmate—seems to want her to be…well, more like Nina. Every moment leading up to the show, from soundcheck to makeup, is haunted by the presence of Nina—who was also Georgia’s best friend. The film most recently won the Jury Prize at the 2022 DGA Student Film Awards. Sarbib co-wrote the film alongside fellow alumna Gina Hackett '20 and the piece was produced by Waleed Alqahtani '20.

 

Chloe Sarbib is an American and French-Algerian writer, director, and editor based in Brooklyn. An alumna of Yale (BA) and Columbia (MFA, screenwriting/directing), Sarbib’s work often explores blurred identities. Her films have played and won awards at festivals in the US and internationally, including Palm Springs International ShortFest, Seattle International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, Provincetown Film Festival, NewFest, Brooklyn Film Festiva; and the Bushwick Film Festival. Her short film, Girl Friend, was Best Student Short at Provincetown Film Festival and Best New York Short at NewFest.

 

Gina Hackett is a writer-director whose work is inspired by true stories of misunderstood women. In 2019, she received SFFILM’s Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship. Her short film, Beauty Marks, screened at Palm Springs ShortFest, the Champs-Elysées Film Festival, Dallas Film Festival (Best Short Film) and Short of the Week. Originally from Wisconsin, Gina attended Harvard before completing her MFA in Screenwriting & Directing at Columbia. She is represented by Gramercy Park Entertainment and lives in Los Angeles.


Waleed Alqahtani is a Saudi screenwriter, director, and producer. His work has screened at Slamdance, Palm Springs, Aspen, Hamptons, New Orleans, Champs-Elysees, and Short of the Week, among others. Waleed has been supported by the Director’s Guild Association and the Indian Paintbrush Production Grant. His feature film Amal participated in the 2020 Cine Qua Non Lab and was a finalist for the SFFILM Rainin grant. His previous work experience includes Film at Lincoln Center, Cinetic Media, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, and as a research/editing assistant to writer-director Debra Granik. He holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Dress Up

Co-produced by Munir Atalla

 

On the eve of her sister’s wedding, Karina brings her “best friend” home to meet the family. When the groom-to-be joins them, she is reminded of her family’s expectations and her queer anxieties begin to unravel in a film that blurs the line between fiction and reality.

 

Munir Atalla (he/him) is a writer and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently completing an MFA in Creative Producing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. His work focuses on insider/outsiders, imperfect people often living on the fringes of society. He was most recently employed by PBS’s premier documentary series, Frontline, where his work was nominated for a Dupont Award. Atalla has credits on Emmy-nominated segments of NBC’s Dateline, where he worked as an Associate Producer on long-form, investigative video reports. His work has been nominated for a NAAMIC Vision Award, and he has been a Finalist for the New York Society for Professional Journalists' “Deadline Award.” He is the recipient of the 2020 Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship. His writing frequently appears on Hyperallergic. Atalla serves on the advisory board of the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project, an NGO dedicated to interrupting the cycles of poverty and criminalization that cause homeless.

You can find the complete lineup of films for the festival here. The 31st Aspen Shortsfest will take place April 5-10, 2022.